Sharks coach Sean Everitt has called for an improved discipline from his side as they prepare to face a ‘conservative’ Rebels side in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Sharks are targeting their second win in Australasia after starting their tour with an excellent 42-20 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin before they were disrupted by injuries and slumped to a 38-22 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Melbourne Rebels are coming off a 24-10 victory over fellow Australians, the Waratahs, following two losses in the opening fortnight. Of their seven previous encounters, Sharks hold the upper hand with five wins. The Melbourne Rebels’ only victory came at home two years ago – almost to the day – a 46-14 win.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Everitt said he expected the Rebels to put his side under pressure through their kicking and defence.
‘They are a conservative team, they hold on to the ball really well, they tend to put the ball through a lot of phases,’ Everitt said. ‘When I talk about conservative play, they kick quite a bit and they defend really well. I guess that’s Dave Wessels’ philosophy.
‘They are a difficult team to play against. From our side, and if the weather allows it, we’re going to continue on this road; I know it’s the right road. We have to be more accurate defensively, particularly in the back three, and we need to put pressure on the breakdown.’
An area of concern for the Sharks has been the penalty count against them in the previous two matches and it’s something the team has looked to fix this week.
‘That is concerning for me because they are controllables, quite a lot of those penalties we gave away on Saturday were controlled by us, there were no 50-50 calls and no excuses for guys putting the team under pressure. We’ve addressed that.
‘Giving away 15 penalties in the first game [against the Highlanders] – you shouldn’t win – this week was 12. We have to get that penalty count down if we want to take the pressure off ourselves in a game because it affects your territory and possession stats.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets